What do ten dollars, a garden, Harrison Ford, and Elon Musk’s brother have in common? They’re all being used to combat food insecurity, malnutrition, and to build the world’s single biggest gardener community.
Launched on the equinox, the Million Gardens Movement (MGM) is a charitable and educational initiative that hopes to put a garden in every household—whether that’s on a fire escape, in a window box, or as part of a community garden initiative—and fresh fruit and veg on every plate.
The brain child of Frank Giustra and Kimbal Musk, the former the owner and publisher of Modern Farmer magazine, the latter the Executive Director of the non-profit Big Green, MGM puts Little Green Garden units in homes and classrooms for just a $10 donation.
The Little Green Gardens are at their core ready-to-use fruit and veg garden beds—and over 5,000 of them have already been distributed.
Kimbal Musk explains that each garden bed comes “with a customized growing plan and online lessons and activities to support the growing of culturally relevant at-home veggie gardens.”
The MGM platform as a whole is simple. If you’re a gardener, sign up to join the community. Donate $10 to give a garden to a family that can’t afford it, or that lives in a food desert, read and contribute to the blog, and then tell other gardeners about it.
“We’ve been so humbled by the overwhelmingly positive response and the passion surrounding our mission,” says Frank Giustra. “When Warwick Saint was photographing gardening activists for our launch, activists like Salma Hayek and Jonathan Scott were asking us “What more can I do for the Movement? What else can I do to help get more people involved? That’s a real sign of how dedicated people are to making a difference.”
“Ten years ago I co-founded Big Green to focus on under-resourced communities to increase access to fresh food and improve food literacy,” says Musk. “Today it’s a national non-profit working with schools in several major cities with almost 640 outdoor Learning Garden classrooms.”
“Frank Giustra reached out with the idea of… Big Green and Modern Farmer [starting] the Million Gardens Movement to make it simple for anyone to give a family a garden. Planting a seed is an act of hope for a brighter tomorrow. We hope millions will join us to grow their own garden and give a garden to a family.”
Seed of hope
The seed of hope planted by Giustra and Kimbal certainly sprouted. With thousands of gardeners already joining up with the movement, celebrities are tagging along like Harrison Ford, Zooey Deschanel, Nicole Scherzinger, and Maye Musk, mother of Kimbal—and a certain billionaire named Elon, who happens to be Kimbal’s brother.
The hashtag #milliongardensmovement has over 300 posts on Instagram. 7,300 gardens in total have been started, including some done out-of-pocket, while 632 have gone into schools to teach kids about gardening and grow a new generation of gardening-savvy adults.
“The most successful aspect of the Million Gardens Movement has been the continual growth of an online gardening community,” says Giustra in an interview. “Our Movement, just like gardening, is about developing our best aspects slowly and steadily as we grow in numbers towards one million gardeners. Seeing people donate is wonderful because they are helping others garden, and those who donate might also take up gardening.”
“We’ve been able to deliver garden kits to Denver, Detroit, Memphis, and Indianapolis so far,” he adds. “We’re working to deliver 5,000 kits in Denver alone in April for Earth Month, and we’re working on delivery plans for cities after that drop.”
Turning the tide
The reality is that food insecurity was a problem in America long before the pandemic began. One study from 2017 found that 5.6% of Americans don’t have adequate access to fresh food. And just in Atlanta, Georgia, as GNN reported, 125,000 people live outside of a convenient distance from the supermarket.
The benefits of a home garden can significantly reduce these impacts—even something the size of the Little Green Gardens given out by MGM can help.
For example, according to the Journal of Extension, the average home vegetable garden produces $677 worth of fruits and vegetables every year.